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John Podesta stepping down as head of CAP

John Podesta stepping down as head of CAP

Center for American Progress (CAP) President and CEO John Podesta will be stepping down as the day-to-day manager and handing over the reins to CAP’s Chief Operating Officer Neera Tanden.

Podesta, who founded CAP in 2003 and also served as the head of President Barack Obama‘s transition team, will remain as CAP’s chairman of the board and will be a full-time employee at CAP focusing on long-term strategic planning and new projects. The change in management will take effect Nov. 1.

"By pulling out of the day-to-day, I will able to pursue two parallel objectives," Podesta wrote in a note to CAP employees today, obtained by The Cable. "Inside CAP, I intend to use this greater time and latitude to play an instrumental role in planning CAP’s strategic growth, increasing our financial support, and drawing new initiatives into the organization. On the outside, I will continue teaching as a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center and working part-time as an uncompensated senior advisor at the State Department."

Podesta’s role as senior advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not been previously reported. Podesta has been working at the State Department unpaid, one day a week, since late last month, a State Department official told The Cable.

Podesta has been serving as an expert consultant to the State Department, providing advice on foreign policy priorities. Specifically, he has been helping State implement components of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), including efforts to leverage diplomacy for development, elevating the role of energy and economics in U.S. foreign policy, and enhancing civilian power in the transitions occurring in the Middle East, the official said. 

Throughout his long career in Washington, Podesta has worked on a number of key the foreign policy issues, focusing heavily on energy security, economic security, climate change, civilian power, civil society building, and international development.

He was President Bill Clinton‘s chief of staff and was a principal on the National Security Council. He was also counselor to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (1995-1996), chief counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee (1987-1988), and chief minority counsel for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks, Security and Terrorism, and Regulatory Reform (1981-1987).

Tanden, who is a graduate of Yale Law School and served as policy director for Clinton’s presidential campaign, will take over Podesta’s responsibilities. She talked about her desire to unite the left in advance of the 2012 election in an interview with the New York Times today.

"There’s a lack of faith in our ability to solve large-scale problems together, and that weakens the progressive cause," she said. "There’s big hunger for bigger solutions, and some of the reaction we’re seeing in this country is a rejection of the current discourse in Washington."